Battle of Mount Falernus, 90 BC

The battle of Mount Falernus (90 BC) was a victory for the Italians over a Roman force under Pompey Strabo that was moving to besiege Asculum (Social War).

The Social War began with a massacre of all of the Romans in Asculum, a city in south-central Picenum, on the Adriatic coast of Italy. Gnaeus Pompeius Strabo, the father of Pompey the Great and a major Roman landowner in Picenum, was given command of the army sent to besiege Asculum.

The Italians moved to block his advance. The Italian forces were commanded by three generals. C. Vidacilius from Asculum and T Lafrenius, the praetor of the Piceni are clearly identified. The identity of the third commander isn't so clear, with P. Ventidus or P. Vettius Scato given as alternatives.

Vettius Scato was one of the more successful Italian commanders, and Cicero recalled a meeting between him and Pompey Strabo, which probably places Scato in Picenum at some point during the war.

P. Ventidius was the name of one of Caesar's generals, who was said to have been captured as a child during the Social War and forced to take part in Pompey's triumph. He was the son of another Publius Ventidius, who may have been the Italian commander during this battle.

The location of Mount Falernus isn't known for sure. However a town called Falerio was founded, probably by Augustus, on the River Tinna, which flows east through central Picenum, passing just to the north of Firmum and it would seem lilely that Mount Falernus was somewhere close to this site. 

This isn't the Mount Falernus famous for producing one of the best wines of ancient Italy, which was on the coast thirty miles to the north-west of Naples.

According to Appian the three Italian commanders combined their forces, defeated Pompey near Mount Falernus, and pursued him east to Firmum. Vidacilius and Ventidus/ Vettius moved away, leaving Lafrenius to besiege Pompey in Firmum. The siege of Firmum ended after Lafrenius was killed during a Roman sortie, and Pompey was finally free to move on to besiege Asculum.

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (17 July 2017), Battle of Mount Falernus, 90 BC , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/battles_mount_falernus.html

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